Past Graduate Students

Meet our Spring 2022 Graduate Student Graduands.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Razak Oduro

Thesis title: Organizing Against Poverty in Edmonton: A Case Study of EndPovertyEdmonton Movement Organization

Razak's research examined the antipoverty efforts and social movement-building approach of EndPovertyEdmonton. In the context of poverty, social movement organizing refers to groups of actors working together as a collective and in a coordinated manner to change fundamental structures that reinforce poverty. Using a case study methodology, and generating data through one-on-one interviews and a document review, findings from the study offer insights into the dynamics, strategies, and contexts of antipoverty organizing in Edmonton.

When asked what were highlights during his graduate school experience, Razak said that he had the privilege of meeting intelligent students who are committed and inspired to see a genuine change in the world. The interactions with fellow students at Human Ecology were remarkable, bringing forward innovative ideas to make people live dignified lives. The opportunity to work with great academic mentors and professors cannot be over-emphasized. Learning from incredible Human Ecology professors motivated him to strive for excellence. His life has been enriched by the remarkable intellectual setting that grad school offers.

Razak is now a Policy Analyst at Alberta Health and looks forward to a bright future where he can further use his skills and knowledge to drive policy success.

Master of Science - Family Ecology and Practice

Patricia Jabonero Escobar

Project title: Intercultural Education in Global Communities

Helping immigrants integrate into Canadian society facilitates their chance to adjust to Canadian culture, especially those immigrants that come from non-English speaking countries. To address and solve this issue Catholic Social Services, specifically its Intercultural Education team, aims to help immigrants by offering support through workshops for individuals and families. As part of her practicum experience, Patricia was fortunate to work with this team, taking the role of leading a program to support adult Latino immigrants. As part of her responsibilities, she was also tasked to draft a document presenting the program’s objectives and identifying future required actions for the team to achieve those objectives and needs, and also to assess the value of the program.

One of the most valuable learning experiences Patricia had as a graduate student was the ability to develop her professional preparation while enhancing academic learning and professional practice. Grad school helped her to achieve a greater understanding and awareness of the norms and values of a profession in the helping services, especially in relation to multicultural competence, and communication skills.

Sabrina Mussieux

Project title: Youth Focussed Community Programming

Sabrina finished off her master’s degree with a practicum at The Family Centre where she worked alongside the Youth Liaisons as part of the Neighborhood Empowerment Team (NET), a collaboration involving The Family Centre, the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Police Service, and the United Way. NET works with communities and youth across Edmonton to develop programs that address incidents that involve youth, and which pose a threat to the safety and security of community members.

During Sabrina’s practicum she took the opportunity to apply classroom learning to a variety of activities including background research for NET projects, conduct surveys, analysis of data, and the development of newsletters. As well, she contributed to social media and the creation of project materials. For her independent project she completed a review of literature about youths’ usage of public spaces. The review provides the Youth Liaisons with up-to-date and valuable information that they and the NET stakeholders can draw on in their ongoing work with youth and communities.

Sabrina states that her practicum facilitated the development of practical skills that she can take into other work environments. She is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Youth Liaisons, gain skills, and learn about a variety of ways in which she can be an involved community member.

Currently, Sabrina is employed as an undergraduate student advisor in the Alberta School of Business.

Master of Science - Textiles and Clothing

Skylar Brown

Thesis title: Examining the Potential for Bacterial Build-up on Apparel Fabrics with Repeated Use - A Laboratory Study

Skylar’s research explored bacteria build-up in apparel fabrics with repeated use/laundering cycles. She was also interested in determining how laundering affects the removal of bacteria from fabrics with different fibres types and whether bacteria transfer between textiles during the laundering process. Key findings suggest that despite the expectation that bacteria would build up as the number of inoculation/wash cycles increased, there was no evidence for this in the current study. While laundering was found to reduce the bacterial levels in textiles, it was not sufficient to remove bacteria entirely from all specimens.

Skylar states that her most valuable experience during graduate school was the opportunity to engage in the research process to gain a clear understanding of project design and methodology.

Currently, Skylar is focusing on expanding her embroidery and textiles business with a keen eye toward conservation.

Meet our Fall 2021 Graduate Student Graduands.

Master of Arts - Material Culture

Katelin Karbonik

Thesis title: Clothing the Medieval Body: A Reconstruction of the Pourpoint of Charles de Blois

Katelin’s research involved re-making a very rare surviving 14th-century garment and then she had a participant wear it. This allowed her to explore this unique garment from the perspectives of both maker and wearer. She found that this garment was cleverly constructed to maximize aesthetic impact and used a limited amount of likely very costly fabric (the original fabric was made with gold-wrapped threads afterall)! Through the wearing process, she learned that this garment could afford a wide range of motion particularly in the shoulder area, which runs contrary to many assumptions about historic dress as being restrictive.

Katelin described the conversations with and mentoring from faculty as being some of the most valuable experiences she had at the department. That and the conversations with her peers! It helped keep everything in perspective.

Katelin is currently working as curator of a clothing and textiles collection at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery. She also teaches sewing courses at Gather Textiles in Edmonton. Katelin plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in the future. So she’s currently browsing programs to see where she might want to go.

Amanda Jurgens

Thesis title: Home Economics as an Education in Material Relationships: What Curriculum Guides, 1956 and 1969, tell us About Girls, Women, Homes, and Dress

Amanda's research began with the question; how do home economics clothing curriculum guides (Saskatchewan, 1956 and 1969) present dress and clothing as a subject area? Study of the curriculum guides revealed the ways in which three main areas were presented to students as a part of a home economics course: Dress, the home, and the body. Her research illuminated a shifting emphasis in the curriculum guides from the family (1956) to the individual (1969). The findings are significant in reflecting upon the influence of past curriculum guides on today’s curriculum guides as well as in considering the effect of interdisciplinary study on the perception of Human Ecology/Home Economics.

Working with other individuals who were passionate about Human Ecology was the most valuable experience Amanda said she had during grad school.

Master of Science - Family Ecology and Practice

Kareema Batal

Project title: Breaking the Barriers to Socially Conscious Business in Edmonton

Kareema's research explored the barriers and facilitators local business owners face in adopting socially conscious business practices. The goal of her research was to understand what factors play a role in supporting small businesses to engage in socially conscious business behaviour, using Edmonton businesses as a local case study.

Kareema says she was fortunate to work as a Teaching Fellow in the Peter Lougheed Leadership College on campus. This combined teaching, professional development and relationship-building experience was the highlight of her graduate student experience.

As an entrepreneur in Edmonton, Kareema spends most of her time running two businesses - Neo Juicery and Cafe Neo. She explains that since she has acquired a great deal of knowledge from her graduate research she is using that knowledge to enhance her practices as a business owner toward making the two Neo's socially conscious businesses and apply the practices she has spent the last few years researching.

Kareema also states that she's thrilled that she chose to do her graduate studies in Human Ecology. At first, she wasn't quite sure how her interests as an entrepreneur lined up with the work of family studies in HECOL. However, it didn't take long for her to learn that Human Ecology as a discipline is not only interdisciplinary and far-reaching in its application, but due to the holistic nature of the HECOL philosophy of practice, she has been able to apply it as a foundational lens through which she has been able to grow as an entrepreneur.

Semhar Berhe

Project title: Immigration and the Canadian Employment Experience: Canada’s Role in Integrating the Skilled Immigrant

Semhar's research focused on the post-migration experience of individuals who immigrated to Canada under the Skilled Worker program. She found that these skilled immigrants are often under/unemployed despite their extensive knowledge, abilities, and achievements pre-migration. There remains a gap in expectations pre-migration and post-migration for skilled immigrants, leading to  the underutilization of skilled immigrants' gifts and abilities.

Semhar explains that one of the most valuable experiences she had during her time as a graduate student in Human Ecology was the ability to engage in discourse with other graduate students and professors. She found that the environment of grad school fostered social cohesion, leading toward a greater goal: improving the lives of all people!

Semhar is currently working as a Global People Policy Specialist at a Fintech company based out of Ontario.


Master of Science - Textiles and Clothing

Lauren Degenstein

Thesis title: Integrating Product Stewardship into the Clothing and Textile Industry: A New Zealand Case Study

The clothing and textile industry has become one of the world’s greatest polluters as tremendous volumes of clothing are produced, used, and disposed of at alarming rates. The industry must transition from its linear take-make-waste model towards a circular economy where textile products are kept in circulation and waste is minimized or eliminated. Product stewardship, a strategy where stakeholders take responsibility for the environmental impacts of products through design to the end-of-life stage, is one option to enable the circular economy. Lauren's thesis research explored stakeholder perspectives on product stewardship for clothing and textiles in New Zealand. Key findings suggest that product stewardship operating within the current linear system can only go so far; changes must occur at every stage of the value chain with all stakeholders making efforts towards circularity. Furthermore, the results highlight the importance of contextual factors and capacities for tailoring regional product stewardship schemes to local needs.

The most valuable experience during grad school came from saying “yes” to the opportunities that came Lauren's way, whether it was taking a course outside of her department, working on different research projects, or joining a students’ association. These experiences allowed Lauren to learn from others with different perspectives and shaped how she approached her own research.

Ikra Shuvo

Project title: Impact of Different Boundary and Ambient Conditions on the Heating Behaviour of Joule Textile Heaters

Ikra’s research was aimed at characterizing the effectiveness of joule heaters used in smart heating textiles. He developed two mathematical models – one for the heating and one for the cooling profile curves – of joule heaters while investigating the impact of different boundaries and ambient conditions on the heating behaviour of joule textile heaters to describe the dynamic heating and cooling behaviours of a textile joule heater. The robustness of his models was assessed by testing different technologies of textile heaters with a series of boundary conditions inside a controlled humidity chamber and a conditioning room under different ambient conditions (i.e., relative humidity and temperature). Ikra’s models were able to successfully describe the dynamic behaviour of the tested joule heaters and could be used to develop criteria to characterize the heating efficiency of smart heating textiles.

Ikra stated that the most valuable experience he had while studying at the department was the academic ecosystem and learning from different faculty within the department. Now Ikra is pursuing his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also a tenant of the Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS) at Harvard University. His research field is in Biomedical Engineering, and he currently focuses on designing piezoelectric-based biomedical devices using MEMS (micro-electromechanical system) fabrication technologies.

Diana Yehia

Thesis title: Investigation of Support Fabrics for Graphene-Based End-of-Life Sensors for Fire Protective Garments

Fire-resistant (FR) fabrics used in protective clothing experience a reduction in performance because of ageing. Yet there are generally no visible clues before the loss in performance has reached a dangerous level. To solve this issue, a graphene-based end-of-life (EOL) sensor is being developed at the University of Alberta which will be placed as a patch on the protective clothing’s surface to indicate when an FR fabric has reached an unsafe level of performance. As part of this larger research, Diana’s thesis aimed to identify the most suitable fabric to serve as a support for the EOL sensor. This support fabric should be flame-resistant, washable, and withstand ageing conditions (e.g. temperature, ultraviolet light, and moisture) without degrading. A series of FR fabrics made of different materials were subjected to accelerated ageing at specific conditions. Based on the behaviour observed for the different fabrics tested, an aramid fabric was identified as the best material candidate because of its superior performance after exposure to accelerated thermal ageing and good resistance to hydrothermal ageing and accelerated laundering.

Diana stated she really valued the experience she had as a graduate student working on her thesis project. This experience enriched her with many skills such as organization, time management, self-discipline, critical thinking, presentation and lab skills. The advantage of working in PCERF’s lab and the freedom she had in conducting experiments developed her experimental and analytical skills and developed her interest further in the topic of protective clothing. She feels fortunate to have had such a great support system, with her supervisors, and the other students – who are now her friends.

Diana is currently a weaving technician and research assistant working on the commercialization of the graphene sensor at Davey Textile Solutions. In the short term, her main goal is to gain more textile industry expertise and obtain as many valuable insights as she can, in addition to getting leadership training. In the long term, she aspires for a management role and perhaps obtain another degree related – or not – to textiles!